Question Time: With The Good Game Guys, Part 2

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I only posted part one an hour ago, but just in case you’ve already forgotten: Question Time is where you get to interview the stars of the games industry. Or, in this case, Bajo and Junglist from ABC TV’s Good Game, which is back on air tonight. In part two, the lads are quizzed on Australian-made games, all those toys in their gaming lair, and er… posing nude.

WiseHacker: What influence do the games you played in the past have (if any) when you review new games?

Bajo: A review after all, is subjective and hostage to all your gaming knowledge and experiences. Every game I’ve ever played has an impact on games I review and it can be hard to review a new game in a series that’s gone in a different direction. Resident Evil 4 for example, took a more action based approach to the series and even though it’s a great game in it’s own right, I didn’t really think it did the series justice. We try to review games as they stand on their own, but you have to take into account what has come before to gauge your score. It’s why you often see inflated scores for games that in the first development cycle on a console – there’s nothing else to put it up against, so the wow factor wins!

Jung: One thing we’ve chatted a lot about recently is whether or not it’s necessary to be familiar with the canon of a particular franchise in order to review it. Mostly we can agree that both the veteran and rookie perspectives are valuable, since both will be watching the show. The two-man rating system is good for that, as it allows us to take on different roles. Personally though, I’m grateful for all my time spent with classics like Ocarina, because it’s interesting seeing how games like that shape the games of today. A background in competitive gaming has also helped quite a bit just with a general understanding of tricky stuff like how balance can work between asymmetrical factions, etc.

Clocks: How much of the show do you produce/write yourselves, and how much is scripted for you by the researcher(s) on the show?

Bajo: Jung and I handle the reviews mainly. We’re a pretty small team though, so we all wear different hats and contribute where we are able. If there’s a dance montage, or a ‘zomg‘, than it’s probably by my hand.

Jung: We’ve grown from three people to about eight now, so thankfully much of the burden has been lifted! Baj and I mostly focus on the reviews now. Moe is our awesome researcher who writes Backwards Compatible. We have a producer who puts together stories for us, with Lux and such, and of course our amazing series producer Syd does a lot of the intros and story producing, and organising of special stuff like the Roffle Cups. We all kinda bounce ideas back and forth in the office, and we need to, because we know our audience is smart and savvy, and if we miss something we’re gunna hear about it [laughs] .

Krispy89: In your opinion, what character/event has had the most influence on the gaming world?

Bajo: That’s a very big question! It has to be Mario, for both character and event. In the 80s, the gaming world was falling into oblivion due to an influx of horrible, cheap and nasty games. It took this little plumber and his console to show that gaming can be more than just asteroids with different colours – it can be a way of life that engages us in a very exciting and emotional way, with the exception of Dead Or Alive: Beach Volleyball.

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Duskbringer: Has Bajo ever been mistaken for the guy from Spandau Ballet [Tony Hadley, pictured above, centre] ?

Bajo: [Laughs]No, but I guess I do kinda look like him. He has better hair though, and clothes.

Symolie: I like these two. Their show is always funny and it’s clear they have a good knowledge of gaming culture past and present. Besides, the one on the right left [Junglist]is a hottie. So my question is: when can we expect a Good Game Speedo Calender featuring Bajo & Junglist and any hot guys who work behind the scenes?

Jung: Thanks buddy, the check is in the mail!

Bajo: It’s well known around the office that I go nude for food, but I think getting a photographer who could bear the shoot itself might prove more of a challenge than you’d think.

Raif “The Moth” Kurban: What is up with the lair you guys are in? Are all the figurines yours? If so, can i buy one… or ALL OF THEM!? PLEASE!?!?

Jung: [Laughs]Yeah they’re all the show’s, we just pick them up as we see them out and about. Except that 7ft Night Elf… Baj takes that home at night.

Bajo: The figurines have been collected mainly by our series producer, who spots ’em and nabs ’em wherever she can. It’s my gnome though, and I can’t bear to part with him. His name is Mr Pants. He likes umbrellas and the theme song to “Deadwood”. Go figure.

SirHatsAlot: I’d like to know how hard it was to sell a TV show based on gaming to an Australian network. What were the main challenges trying to get it off the ground?

Jung: There was a window of opportunity, where ABC2 was looking for new ideas and “cross-platform” was the buzzword of the time. One of the grown-ups had previously worked at Nintendo. Our series producer Syd spotted this and we put together a proposal. At the time, ABC2 was run by people more savvy with website innovation than TV production, so for some crazy reason, they liked it. From then it was a matter of showing them we could make a pilot for super cheap – Syd called in lots of favours, and we made it for around $800 (most of which went towards my overdue rent). I had originally expected to be a researcher, thinking they’d never be interested in having my accent in front of camera, but I guess I lucked out! Season 1 and beyond garnered over 95% positive feedback, and lots of it, which is both unheard of in TV land and in gaming land. I think a large part of that is just listening to audience suggestions for changes in the show, like getting rid of the “cheat monkey”, so that’s been our plan ever since.

Mathew O’Connor: What sort of future do you see for the games industry for Australian developers? High budget blockbusters, or simple XBLA/PSN style mini-games? Adding tech to foreign games, like Mercenaries 2: World In Flames, or ground-up titles like Stormrise? Could the market support a uniquely ‘Oz-strail-yan’ flavoured game like, for instance, one based on Mad Max?

Bajo: I’d love a Mad Max game. Let’s get Bethesda onto it – Fallout 3 is half way there. I think exclusive Australian games will always be around, but an exclusively Aussie-made multi-million dollar blockbuster might be pretty rare with our current economic situation. But I’m no expert on that, and I’m sure once our industry grows over here, things will change. Many developers seem to like a 24-hour development cycle though such as the devs behind Bioshock. Australia handled the PC version and were also involved in the design process along the way while America slept. 24-hour cycles are a good thing for us because we can work while other countries are dreaming of swings and roundabouts.

Jung: I think even though it’s a bit tougher financially here, there are still advantages. Australia is a great place to work, and lots of developers I’ve talked to have said working in a multicultural studio has its own benefits. We already have studios with the talent and size to make those blockbusters, and a few are being made right now. Having said that you don’t need to go big budget to succeed, take a look at Infinite Interactive… and besides, the motorcycles were the best part of Mercs 2!
As for a Oz-themed game though, I happen to know Americans don’t mind Aussie culture at all. Our accents, our war support, Steve Irwin… they eat it up. It’s just like U.S. culture, but with an element of novelty. So an Aussie game is far from suicide, as long as it’s fun!


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